#1 Body Language Fundamental: Consistency
Ability to establish someone’s normal behavior when he/she is least stressed
What do you and the superheroes from The Avengers have in common? You each have the unique ability to be extremely aware and notice things that the average person doesn’t see. Decoding an individual’s consistent behavior, also known as their baseline, is the first fundamental step in becoming a body language superhero!
So why does establishing a baseline matter? Baselining allows you to know when someone deviates from their normal behavior, is experiencing comfort or discomfort, and it gives you a possible glimpse into their subconscious thinking. This technique is underutilized in business today but if done properly can create significant benefits whether you’re leading a Fortune 500 company, conducting a team meeting, negotiating across the table, or simply talking with your kid at the dinner table. So what should you look for to determine someone’s baseline?
GRAPES is the first thing I want you to think of when trying to establish a baseline.
This acronym contains the six key items that you should observe to accurately determine an individual’s baseline:
|Gestures||Observe if most of the gestures displayed are open or closed. Pay particular attention to any gestures the individual does regularly.
|Rate of Speech||Observe how fast or slow the person talks and see if there is a consistent pattern each time you listen to them.
|Animation||Observe the level of animation in an individual’s face, tone of voice, and their gestures. How would you rate their level of animation on a scale of 1-10?
|Posture||Observe how erect or broken an individual’s posture is. Does he/she tend to lean to one side when sitting, tile their head, lean in/away?
|Eye Contact||Observe the type of eye contact provided. Does he/she look directly at you or avoid eye contact? What percentage of direct eye contact does he/she maintain?
|Space||Observe how much distance the person generally maintains between people he/she knows vs. strangers.
Each of these items will give you a more accurate depiction of an individual’s baseline, give you the ability to notice when their baseline changes, and then note what part of the conversation created the shift in the baseline. Research indicates that someone’s gestures are worthy of our attention if they occur within 3-5 seconds of the issue being discussed or asked (Principles of Kinesic Interview and Interrogation, 2003). Your ability to spot these cues and alter your communication approach will set you apart from your peers.
Finally, understanding how to establish someone’s baseline will help prevent you from generating false assumptions and is the first, most important, step to accurately decoding body language. The four additional fundamentals that we will explore in our future blogs are all grounded in this technique.
Your Weekly Superhero Challenge:
It’s going to take practice to join the elite status of The Avengers; therefore, take time this week to discover your baseline. Focus on only one of the six key items each day until you have a clear understanding of what your norm is in that particular area. This will allow you to apply the skills and internalize the process before trying to read others’ body language.
On a more creative note, we want to know your superhero name so send us a tweet or Facebook message with your superhero name and power!
Want to learn more about baselining? Learn how to establish someone’s baseline through a handshake by reading my Handshake Revolution blog. Additionally, follow Bodylitics on Twitter or Facebook for tips on communication and body language skills.